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DIY Mini Split

As an avid DIYer, you're always looking for ways to save money by tackling home improvement projects yourself. One area where professional installation often comes with a hefty price tag is adding or upgrading HVAC systems. Suppose you're reasonably handy and want an efficient way to add supplemental heating and cooling to specific areas of your home. In that case, a DIY mini-split installation may be right up your alley. In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know to install your DIY mini split.

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What Is a DIY Mini Split Air Conditioning Unit?

A DIY mini split air conditioning unit is a ductless heating and cooling system you can install yourself. It consists of two main parts: an outdoor compressor/condenser unit and one or more indoor air handlers.

The outdoor unit contains the compressor, condenser coil, and fan, which work together to generate hot or cold air. Copper tubing transfers the refrigerant between the outdoor and indoor units. The indoor units, also known as air handlers or heads, push the conditioned air into the rooms of your home.

Benefits of a DIY Mini Split

There are several benefits to a DIY mini-split system:

  1. Cost-effective - Mini split units are very energy efficient since there is no energy lost transferring air through ductwork. They can significantly lower your utility bills.
  2. Zone control - With multiple indoor units, you can control the temperature in each zone or room separately. This allows you to heat or cool only occupied areas.
  3. Quiet operation - Mini-split systems have minimal noise since the compressor and condenser are located outside. The indoor units make little noise.
  4. Easy installation - Mini-split systems do not require any ductwork so they are ideal for homes where installing ducts is difficult. The components are also lightweight and compact.

The Installation Process

Installing a DIY mini split air conditioner involves the following basic steps:

  1. Select a location for the outdoor and indoor units. The outdoor unit should be in an area with plenty of ventilation and the indoor units should be on an exterior wall.
  2. Install the mounting pads and brackets for the outdoor and indoor units.
  3. Connect the refrigerant lines between the outdoor and indoor units. This requires brazing the copper tubing together with a torch.
  4. Connect the electrical wiring to power the units. This should be done by a licensed electrician.
  5. Evacuate the air from the refrigerant lines and charge the system with refrigerant. This requires the use of an HVAC vacuum pump and refrigerant gauges.
  6. Test the system to ensure it is functioning properly and cools/heats as expected.
  7. Perform final trim work like closing up any holes in walls or the ceiling from tubing/wiring and reinstalling flooring or lawn around the units.

How to Choose the Best DIY Mini Split for Your Home

Choosing the Right Capacity for Your Space

  • First, determine the appropriate capacity for your space based on the square footage. A system that is too small will not adequately cool or heat the area. A system that is oversized space will lead to short cycling, which reduces efficiency and system lifespan.

Choosing Indoor and Outdoor Unit Types

  • Next, consider the indoor and outdoor unit types. Indoor units come in wall-mounted, ceiling cassette, floor console, and ducted options based on your installation preferences. Outdoor units can be air-cooled or geothermal heat pump compatible. Geothermal heat pumps provide the highest efficiency but require underground installation.

Evaluating Available Features for Your Application

  • Also, evaluate the available features to determine what is most important for your application. Common features include programmable thermostats, sleep mode, fan speed control, louver positioning, built-in air filters, and WiFi connectivity. More advanced options offer zone control, air quality monitoring, and voice activation.

Comparing Reputable Brands for Long-Term Value

  • Finally, compare reputable brands based on factors such as warranty terms, energy efficiency rating (SEER), heating season performance factor (HSPF), and customer reviews. Brands with a proven track record of reliability and support will provide the best long-term value.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Installing a DIY Mini Split

To install a DIY mini split air conditioning unit, follow these steps:

Purchase the appropriate-sized mini split unit for your space

  • Choose between a single-zone or multi-zone system depending on the number of rooms you want to cool. Consider factors like the square footage of the space and any adjacent rooms. Buy a unit with a matched condenser and evaporator for maximum efficiency.

Plan the installation location

  • The outdoor condenser unit needs to be placed on a concrete pad in an area with plenty of airflow and shelter. The indoor evaporator unit should be located high on a wall in the center of the space you want to cool for optimal circulation. Ensure no obstacles are blocking the airflow.

Create access holes

  • You will need to drill a hole through the wall for the refrigerant lines to connect the indoor and outdoor units. The hole should be slightly larger than the diameter of the insulated refrigerant lines. You may also need to create a channel for condensation drainage and electrical connections.

Mount the indoor evaporator unit

  • Secure the unit to wall studs, ensuring it is level. Connect the refrigerant lines to the ports on the back of the unit. Attach a drain line to remove any condensation. Connect the power cable to the main power supply.

Connect the outdoor condenser

  • Attach the outdoor unit securely to the concrete pad. Connect the refrigerant lines and power cable to the ports on the condenser unit. Ensure all connections are tight to prevent leaks.

Power on and test the unit

  • Turn on the power to both the indoor and outdoor units. Set the temperature on the indoor thermostat and ensure cold air begins to circulate within a few minutes. Check for any strange noises or leaks before leaving the units unattended.

Consider maintenance

  • For the best performance over the lifetime of the units, perform regular maintenance like clearing debris from air filters and vents, inspecting refrigerant lines for damage, and ensuring proper drainage. Annual professional servicing can also maximize efficiency and longevity.

MRCOOL DIY Mini Split Review: A Top Brand for Do-It-Yourselfers

The MRCOOL DIY Mini Split is an excellent option for homeowners looking to install their own ductless mini split system. MRCOOL specializes in producing mini-split units for DIY installation, making the process as straightforward as possible for beginners.

High Efficiency and Quiet Operation

  • MRCOOL's mini split systems utilize energy-efficient inverter technology to provide both cooling and heating. Their units have SEER ratings up to 23, exceeding the minimum SEER requirement. They are also designed to operate quietly, with decibel levels lower than a normal conversation. The indoor units distribute air via whisper-quiet fans and vents.

Multiple Sizes Available

  • MRCOOL offers mini split systems in a range of sizes to suit any space. They produce units with 9,000 to 36,000 BTU capacities, suitable for cooling and heating small rooms to large areas of over 1,500 square feet. Their multi-zone systems allow you to connect multiple indoor units to a single outdoor compressor, providing whole-home temperature control.

DIY-Friendly Design

  • MRCOOL mini splits are engineered to be installed without professional HVAC experience. Their units come pre-charged with refrigerant, so no brazing or soldering is required. The refrigerant lines simply connect to the indoor and outdoor units with flare nuts. All other components like mounting hardware, drain lines, and wiring are also designed for easy DIY installation. MRCOOL provides video tutorials and phone support to assist customers through the entire installation process.

Warranty and Support

  • All MRCOOL mini split systems come with a 5-year parts warranty and a 7-year compressor warranty. They offer phone, email, and live chat support to help with any technical or installation issues. They also have a large network of independent contractors available for professional installation or repair if needed.

DIY Mini Split Installation for Rewarding Comfort

As you've seen, installing a mini split air conditioning system yourself is an advanced DIY project but can be very rewarding. With patience and the proper safety precautions, installing your mini split can save you money and give you a sense of accomplishment. Once complete, you'll be able to enjoy the comfort and energy efficiency of your new DIY mini-split system for years to come.

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